This is the list of all the registered voters in New York City in 1924. It was published by the City Record, a daily New York City government publication, in late 1924.
This list is separated out first by the borough (Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, or Queens), then by the larger Assembly District (A.D.) number, then by the smaller Election District (E.D.) number, and then finally by the residential street address where each person had registered to vote that year. Households are grouped together at the same address.
This particular document is only for one particular Assembly District in one particular borough. Here are links to the full collections, collected per borough, all uploaded to the Internet Archive:
This list was originally kept by the New York City Board of Elections. In early 2016, a joint effort between the not-for-profit activist group Reclaim The Records (https://www.ReclaimTheRecords.org/) and a New York and Florida based genealogist named Phyllis Kramer was undertaken to obtain and publish the first public copy of this list in ninety-two years. They commissioned the first-ever digital imaging of the lists from where they had sat in storage at the New York City Municipal Archives, which is where they had been moved from the New York City Board of Elections.
The Archives hired a photographer to digitize the lists, and Reclaim The Records reimbursed the Archives for the cost of the work. Reclaim The Records then combined the raw images into PDF files, one per Assembly District, and uploaded the PDF's to the Internet Archive (archive.org) in September 2016, and publicly announced their availability in early November 2016, just a few days ahead of the 2016 US election.
While this list is useful on its own merits, it also serves as an index to another set of historical documents, the handwritten one-page voter registration forms filled out by the people who were registering to vote. Note that until 1957, people in New York City who wanted to vote had to re-register every year, not just when they moved or changed addresses.
How do I find someone on this list?
This list was published in late 1924. There was a census of New York State done less than a year later, in early 1925. Presuming that a person of interest, perhaps a relative, had not moved in the intervening months, you can search for your relative in the 1925 New York Census and then note the Borough and Assembly District and Election District and street address where your relative lived, all of which are written at the top of the census sheet. Then you can look up that same Borough and Assembly District and Election District in this list to see if your relative appears here too.
Unfortunately, a map of all the Assembly Districts in New York City for 1924 does not appear to be online. The borders might be somewhat different than their modern borders.
What can I do with this information?
If you see a name of interest here, you can then put in a request with the New York City Municipal Archives or New York City Board of Elections to obtain a copy of their full one-page voter registration form, which will have all sorts of interesting and potentially useful information on it. The usual fields will be there, like name and address, but also tidbits like political party affiliation, how long they had been in the state and the city, and when they had last voted.
Perhaps most importantly, for New Yorkers who were naturalized citizens, those one-page voter registration forms will tell you the exact court name and the exact date on which they were naturalized. That information is otherwise fairly hard to determine, especialy if the person you're researching had a common name, or if other sources, such as census information, are conflicting or inconclusive. If the voter had obtained citizenship through marriage, the voter registration form would also provide their spouse's name.
And once you have that naturalization information from their one-page voter registration form, you can then locate and obtain a copy of their naturalization file from USCIS or the National Archives (NARA), and that file may have further detailed information about that person, such as their exact town of origin.
For more information about voter records, check out this informative PDF from Jan Meisels Allen, which includes a digital image of a 1920 New York City voter registration form.
I found a name! Now what?
If you'd like to get a copy of a specific person's original voter registration form, here's what to do:
Make a note of the BOROUGH the person was living in. That will determine which city agency has the records you want.
For Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island (Richmond County), you will need to contact the New York City Municipal Archives, asking them for a copy of that person's original voter registration form. The Archives does not yet have an online form for ordering this document. You will have to write them a letter by postal mail to order a copy, and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check made out to the New York City Municipal Archives for $15 (US). Make sure to include the YEAR (1924), the BOROUGH, the ASSEMBLY DISTRICT, the ELECTION DISTRICT, the STREET ADDRESS, and the person's FULL NAME, just as it was spelled in this voter list. Include your name and mailing address, and a phone number or e-mail address so they can contact you with any questions.
Mail your letter to: New York City Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Don't forget to enclose your check and your self-addressed stamped envelope.
For the Bronx and Brooklyn, the original voter registration books have not been transferred to the Municipal Archives yet. They may still be in a warehouse in New York City managed by the New York City Board of Elections. You will need to make a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request to the New York City Board of Elections. (Don't worry, this is basically just writing them a letter.)
In your letter, write that you are making a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) records request for a copy of a person's original voter registration form. Make sure to include the YEAR (1924), the BOROUGH, the ASSEMBLY DISTRICT, the ELECTION DISTRICT, the STREET ADDRESS, and the person's name, just as it was spelled in this voter list. Include your name and mailing address, and a phone number or e-mail address so they can contact you with any questions.
Mail your letter to: Board of Elections in the City of New York
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10004
ATTN: Records Access Officer / FOIL Officer
You can also try e-mailing them at FOILrequests@boe.nyc.ny.us . The Board of Elections should respond to your FOIL request within a few weeks, and if they find the record, they may require you to pay a small fee for the copy, perhaps ten or fifteen dollars.
Finally, no matter which agency you contact, we request that you please add the following line, or something like it, to your letter: "I was made aware of this information through the not-for-profit group Reclaim The Records, and their work to put genealogical data online for free public use."
How many names are on this list?
The full list, including all the boroughs with all the Assembly Districts combined, contains hundreds of thousands of names, possibly over a million -- the exact number is unknown right now. Hopefully, some organization out there will undertake an indexing project of the names on this list to create a text-searchable database. That would make doing look-ups for names far easier, and it would meant that we would finally discover the exact number of registered voters in the city in 1924.
In the meantime, we can try to estimate. In 1920 and 1930, the population of New York City looked like this:
Therefore, the total population at the time this list was made in 1924 was probably about six million New Yorkers. But a great many of them were under the age of twenty-one and were therefore ineligible to vote.
Another issue is that in 1924, a large percentage of the city was foreign-born, and not all of them had become naturalized citizens yet. Here's the data for 1920 and 1930:
That means the percentage of foreign-born New Yorkers in 1924 may have been around 35%. A lot of those foreign-born New Yorkers were already naturalized, or in the process of naturalization, in 1924, but certainly not all. That would have cut down on the number of people in this 1924 List of Registered Voters.
Additionally, New York State had passed an amendment to their state constitution in 1921, instituting "literacy tests" in order to register to vote. This amendment forced people who wished to register to prove that they could read aloud a section of the New York State constitution and correctly write and spell some of the words therein, or else prove that they had completed at least the eighth grade in school. (Source) This literacy test disqualified many citizens from exercising their right to vote, and therefore also reduced the number of names on this list, particularly amongst the immigrant community. (Literacy tests were finally outlawed in the United States under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.)
Finally, 1924 was only four years after women had finally gained the right to vote nationwide in the United States, and eight years after they'd won the right in New York State. Relatively few women's names appear on this list of registered voters, far fewer than fifty percent of the names on this list. That number would slowly rise over the decades that followed. (In 2012, 53% of American voters were women.)
It would be an interesting project to count the names of the likely-female voters on this list, and see how that percentage might rise or fall by by borough, Assembly District, and Election District, to create a map or other visualization of female voter partcipation rates across New York City in 1924. It would also be interesting to note differences in the voter participation rate amongst different ethnic neighborhoods in the city, such as the Lower East Side, Yorkville, Harlem, Little Italy, Chinatown, or Hell's Kitchen.
Can I use this data on another website, or for a project?
Sure! This data is in the public domain. There are no copyrights or restrictions on it, and you may use it as you wish.